I have been sitting on this review for a long time. I tried writing it a couple of times but I just couldn’t do it justice. But I’m going to try and tell you how lovely this book is. Ellie’s best friend Lucy is murdered in broad daylight and Ellie goes to London to take care of her 8 year daughter Sophie. Lucy’s husband Greg is coping with his own grief and does not really pay much attention to Sophie or what’s going on in the house. He’s more than happy to hand over the ropes to Ellie for a while.
Sophie is understandably going through a shock and has stopped speaking at all. Ellie and her husband’s relationship is strained because Ellie lost her child some time back. Instead of working on it, Ellie goes to London to take care of Sophie and figure out what’s going on with her life and her relationship.
As you can see, After You is not strong on plot; it’s more focused on the relationship aspect of it, relationship between friends, between mother and daughter and between husband and wife. Ellie tires to get Sophie out of her shock by reading aloud The Secret Garden to her every night. And even though most of you know what I think of The Secret Garden, I really enjoyed how the author used the book in the story. I disliked Ellie sometimes because of the way she handled her relationship with her husband, the way she even refused to try. Why does a loss of a baby have to result in the loss of your relationship with your husband too? Is having a child or not the only basis for the marriage?
As Ellie comes to terms with these things and more, we get to see the transformation in her and as well as Sophie, who is a real sweetheart by the way. Everyone in this book has their own problems and in the end however everything is not resolved, there is an effort to mend what they already have instead of being distraught over what was lost.
After You is a story of loss, hope, grief, regrets, family, finding happiness and most important, finding a place where you belong to . After You is a brilliant look at relationships with beautiful writing from Julie Buxbaum. Although the book may sound really sad, it is actually quite funny most of the time.
My favorite passages. They are probably understood best with context.
Time and place fall away. We dip into the book, as if bathing. There will soon be a garden. A buried key. A hidden door. We keep reading, and we can almost forget everything that has been lost and taken.
“Can you at least try to understand?”
“Okay, I can do that. I’ll try.” And here’s the thing about Philip. Just when you think you may stop loving him, that you can give him up for good, that enough distance has grown between you that there is no climbing back into this thing, that he’s become more stranger than husband, he goes and says something that makes you forget why you could have ever doubted him in the first place: “Of course, I can try for you.”
I want to be eight years old again, sit in a desk that wraps around on the right side even though I am a lefty, and I want to store my already made lunch and floppy school-books in its belly. I want to laugh when my teacher gets chalk on her back and get called on to recite my multiplication tables. I want my responsibilities clearly laid out: to go to school, to do my home-work, to go to bed at bedtime, and to brush my teeth twice a day. I want to surrender all of my decision-making power, the cruel weapon of too much freedom, and hand in my adulthood badge. I don’t want to keep falling up.
I’m so glad I’ve already ordered The Opposite Of Love by the same author, now just keeping my fingers crossed that it arrives 🙂